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From the first page I knew this book would be riddled with characters my heart could bleed for. Ms Bernard has the special gift of not only making her characters feel authentically real, but making readers want to feel for them almost the minute they step onto the page. Gayle and Rowan will go down as one of my favorite historical romance couples ever. Their relationship and interactions felt very genuine. And I’ve been CRAVING a good romance with a Doctor lead for a while. I could gush about this book for forever, but I think I’ll just get to my review and outline what made this book work for me.
At the beginning of the story, readers find themselves in the middle of a house call Dr.Rowan West is attending to. Fatigued beyond belief and pushed to his emotional limits, Rowan does all he can to ensure comfort for one of his favorite patients and then proceeds home for a few hours’ sleep before he starts the cycle of endless calls and sometimes heartbreak at the unfavorable results all over again. But when he arrives home, his butler informs him a lady visitor has been awaiting his return. The persistent head ache Rowan had been enduring is about to get some more fodder!
Enter, Miss Gayle Renshaw. The orphaned great granddaughter of a knight with a hefty inheritance and some decidedly unladylike ambitions for her time. Gayle’s only surviving relative believes she’s traveling for some worldly polish and a French trinket or two, when really, she’s waiting in the salon of a bachelor Dr.West with an outlandish proposition and the intent to blackmail should she not get her way.
A female apprentice? A female physician? Rowan’s mind is reeling as he takes in the proposal the strange woman in his home has offered him. He knows that no one in his profession would seriously consider a woman capable of anything other than child bearing, maintaining a household, and switching out bed pans in a nurse’s uniform, but the mysterious Gayle will hear nothing of it and is determined to apprentice under the wing of a respected London doctor so that she may apply for medical school with unquestionable and indisputable credentials; or bring said respectable doctor down in a flame of reputation-destroying scandal if he does not comply.
With little choice and an alternate plan to bury Miss Renshaw in a sea of medical texts and laboratory work, Rowan agrees to take Gayle on as his ‘assistant’ and discreetly give her the education she has asked for. His plan however backfires, and not only can Gayle handle everything he throws at her with -albeit exhausted- grace, but she seems to thrives on it and her passion for the medicinal arts becomes evident with each challenge she overcomes. As maddening as Gayle’s stubbornness can be sometimes, Rowan can’t help but respect her; He also can’t help his deep, ludicrous attraction for her.
As Gayle works on breaking down barriers and resisting her arousing teacher, Rowan is busy trying to determine who wants to do harm to him and his group of friends known as the Jaded. The treasure they brought back with them from India is causing more harm than good as anonymous threats are made and lives become endangered. There’s so very much to lose on both sides, so very much at stake, but just maybe, fate has something else in mind and dreams can expand to include an unyielding love between a doctor and his apprentice.
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is actually one of the saddest parts of the book. In a last ditch effort to dissuade Gayle on her hazardous path, Rowan bring her on a call he’s been dreading for a long time. A beloved patient has neared his end and as Rowan predicted, Gayle’s emotions got the better of her and he lashes out on her while trying to teach a lesson. The passing of the patient is just so potently written; I seriously started to tear up. It was beautiful. All the characters’ pain was so palpable and genuine that I couldn’t NOT feel it. It was sad, but very well done. I got the same feeling I did as when Doby died in the last Harry Potter book! It’s not pretty, but it’s special when an author can do this to a reader.
Ecstasy Wears Emeralds is one of my favorite books from 2011! Bernard’s got the goods. This was my first book by this author, but I can assure you it will not be the last. This book had so many elements in it, such as social classism, male chauvinism, a mystery sub plot, enjoyable character camaraderie, ect that it can strike a chord with so many different readers. I did end up skimming over some of the sex scenes, though. Not that they weren’t written well, but there were quite a few and they were all pretty thorough so maybe I just wasn’t in the mood (no pun intended) for all that smex in that sitting- especially when I was so interested and invested in the plot. I’ll probably be thankful for said scenes later during a future re-read, but I just wasn’t into them at that point (they were very steamy from what I gleaned). Also, the ending was a bit lack-luster for me. I wanted it to go off with a bigger bang and I feel like there were many mini climaxes towards the middle end that once I got to the real climax at the end I needed more of a UMMPH. You guys know I love action-so I wanted more- but it may be just right for some. But seriously, with such exceptional characters- both primary and secondary, a winning plot, very tangible emotion and passions, how come you are still reading this review and not out waiting on line at your local bookstore with your copy? It’s such a special read, truly something to be remembered.
A special thanks to
The author for
Sending an ARC for review
Want more Renee Bernard? You’ll have to beat me to her latest release, Passion Wears Pearls: